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Project of the Year (over £50m): Winner

Winner: Manchester City Council and Laing O’Rourke – Manchester Town Hall Complex transformation

Judges chose the transformation of the Manchester Town Hall Complex as its Project of the Year over £50m for being a scheme which simply “had it all”.

Transforming the Grade II-listed complex between 2011 and 2014 was a challenge many considered impossible, with processes subject to approval prior to onsite commencement, from material deliveries to the protection of adjacent fabric and competency of 800 staff.

That it finished in 2014 on time and budget was, judges said, testament to an outstanding collaborative process, including its health and safety approach, use of building information modelling and combining complex engineering requirements with English Heritage demands.

Laing O’Rourke highlighted in its entry that the project’s success was down to not only the delivery team, but a “strong vision from Manchester City Council and close collaboration and transparent partnership working from the wide range of organisations involved”.

“This was a simply outstanding entry that ticked all the boxes, from project excellence and health and safety culture, to client satisfaction. The team collaboration demonstrated was first-class and the client’s testimony was proof of the project’s excellence in completion”

Judges’ comment

The team had to transform the 1930s central library and its radial, steel-framed structural grid into a stunning 10,000 sq m library with a simplified vertical circulation core for the main ventilation system.

The previously “confusing” interior structure that had limited accessibility was revised, improving public accessibility from 30 per cent to 70 per cent in the new layout.

Almost 80 apprenticeships were created on the job, with 82 per cent of procurement spending retained within Greater Manchester; 98 per cent of project waste recycled; more than 100 volunteering days delivered; and a 41 per cent reduction in carbon emissions achieved.

The council’s head of commercial performance said: “The delivery of the project has been ‘game-changing’.

“If nothing else, it deserves to be named Project of the Year because of the exemplary collaborative approach – critical to delivering a technically complex, high-risk project through new ways of working, on time and to budget.”

Through a pain-gain reinvestment mechanism, more than £1.2m was put back into the project through savings found, and the scheme still came in £200,000 under budget.

Laing O’Rourke said the whole project team deserved to win the award for “one of the most challenging and important projects any of our organisations have delivered” that pushed new boundaries for collaborative working and technology.

Highly Commended: Shepherd – Drax Power Station

When Shepherd went outside its traditional scope as a contractor for this project, it took on and completed a unique project that judges felt was worthy of special mention.

Two of three Drax units at the Yorkshire site are being converted from coal to sustainable biomass as the client looks to produce up to 1,260 MW of renewable electricity a day.

Among the innovative solutions used by the Shepherd team was the design and use of clear-spanning thin-shell concrete dome structures to eradicate dust traps and ledges in what was a UK first.

The team also had to design and install 28 conveyor systems with a combined length of 4 km, capable of transporting 2,800 tonnes of biomass an hour and reaching silos at heights of up to 68 m so as to transport fuel from the storage facility to the boiler distribution system.

The use of BIM and offsite construction, along with an accident frequency rate of just 0.12, all pointed to a contractor at the top of its game on a stunningly complex and innovative project.


Balfour Beatty – Reading Elevated Railway

Bam Ferrovial Kier joint venture – Crossrail C300/C410 western running tunnels and station caverns

Heathrow Airport – Terminal 2, The Queen’s Terminal

Kier Construction – Five Pancras Square, King’s Cross

MPT Manchester – Metrolink, Airport Line

Skanska Balfour Beatty joint venture – M25 LUS, Managed Motorway All Lanes Running

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